Tuesday 27 November 2012

Contextualising the 2012 Cull of Gaza - Part 1

When we got back two weeks ago - among our mail was this appeal from MAP or Medical Aid for Palestinians.

"Despite the promise by Israel in 2010 to ease the blockade, children in Gaza are still living in grinding poverty, under severe restrictions and deprivation every day."

The map illustrates the Access Points that are closed:  Gaza Port, Nahal Oz, Karni, Sufa (on the east bordering Israel).  Imagine how Britain would suffer if the ports of Southampton, Portsmouth were closed to trade. Of course,  the well-heeled  could depend on Heathrow and the other airports. As for Gaza, even the Airport is closed.  As for the border with Egypt to the south, Rafah is open but with very limited public access.  A few years ago enterprising and desperate Palestinians dug a tunnel into Egypt to get food and medical supplies.  But the Egyptian government under Mubarak  sealed the tunnels at the behest of their American and Israeli allies.

"Gaza has been a virtual prison since June 2007.  It is a space no larger than the smallest county in England with over 40 times the population - who are denied the most basic of human rights - the right to health."

Here are the gory details enlarged from the above.

"Since 2008, 70 Palestinians have died because their permits for treatment outside Gaza were delayed, turning the blockade into a death sentence."

Just imagine, if Israelis  who require medical treatment in UK and USA and France were obstructed by a blockade!  If that ever happens pigs will fly!

"The Nahal Oz pipeline .... has been closed for the last two and a half years.    .... power cuts last up to 12 hours a day .... devastating effects for hospitals."

Imagine the scenario if  by some divine intercession  ( man left to himself will not dare to do so), the supply of petroleum from the Middle East to UK, USA, Europe and Israel were cut off.   Like the Palestinians they will  "be forced to use gas and naked flames for cooking and heating, leading to a huge rise in the numbers of burns injuries."  And with Christmas just round the corner, they won't be able to partake of  Christmas dinner with roast turkey, roast potatoes, boiled sprouts and Christmas pudding to celebrate this Christian and western secular festivity.  Only liqueur and spirits ( no, not the ghost of Scrooge) will be plentiful.

"With wholly inadequate basic materials, food and medical supplies, Gaza's people are on their knees.  Unemployment is amongst the world's highest at 30.3%, 54% of people don't have enough food and about one-third of items on the essential drug list are out of stock."

The Brits remember - with pride - the Blitz when Hitler was raining bombs on their cities and blockading their supply of food.  Their venerable Churchill had this to say :

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and the oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend
our island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds, 
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, 
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender .

The Brits are respected for their tenacity.  Even though the odds against the Palestinians vis-a-vis the Israelis are far worse than the Brits against the Germans, the former are labelled as terrorists - standing alone as they are pulverized into the ground while the rest of the world look on and give succour to the brutal Israeli regime.

Then two weeks ago Israel conducted another campaign of "killing off  the weakest and unwanted"  another culling spree sanctioned by the newly-elected Obama and the UK government. And all because the Gazans have been pelting the Jews with their rockets!!

"The alleged tens of thousands of 'rockets'from Gaza killed 21 Israeli people since 2001.  During the 2008/2009 Operation Cast Lead, 1,300 Palestinians were massacred including 352 children.

That's another context to be considered.

This 2012 invasion will not be the last despite the so-called peace treaty.  Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 said, "What a beautiful fix we are in now: peace has been declared."

Not in the name of Eratz Israel (Greater Israel) - no way.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Today - A Week Ago

....... we opened the front door to this.

The house - after nearly six months - looked the same.  Thankfully the central heating, the telephone, the TV, the fridge, the gas cooker, the washing machine and the shower - unlike the last time we got back in  March 2012 - were in good working order.

We warmed up the house, took a lovely hot shower and had a decent meal of mushroom omelette, boiled spuds and brussels sprouts.  Only my laptop, worn out from travelling 6,800 miles gave up the ghost.  It spitted and spluttered for days before Samsudin our Computer Man wrung it by its neck and got it working, like now.

Each morning I look at the view from the Study window and this I recorded at 7.07 am.

Then I would go downstairs ....

........ where I would find Jack's 'welcome home'' gift - the last summer rose from his garden - still emitting  an intoxicating fragrance.

I felt like I never really left this Leicester abode but these three ....

......... Socks, Comot and Rusty keep on tugging my heartstrings.

It's back to a cool, quiet respite from a hectic KL, from driving into Pudu three times a week and anticipating  in trepidation, noisy assaults from the shenanigans of Ikan Bakar Sekinchan.

It will now be a life of walks into the City Centre, to Victoria Park sans car and insane motorcyclists.  It's a time for thinking, reminiscing and writing.

(Please click "Watch on You Tube" to get the video.)

Sunday 11 November 2012

Going Home (Leicester) from Home (Kuala Lumpur)

We used to be like this ...

......ancient like Methuselah and as tough as old boots.

But history repeated itself .....

.......when in April,  Mr Tough Boots was brought down by three slipped discs.  It left us knackered - just about ready to be dispatched to the glue factory.

But thanks to Prof. Du Wei, Assoc. Prof. Wei Hong Xin  (Tung Shin Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Dr. Low Eu Huat (Tung Shin Western Medicine)  and without depending on pain killers, they put the spouse back together - just enough to enable him and AsH to make the trip back for winter in Leicester.

We're off tomorrow and InsyaAllah when we get back in 3 months' time we shall look like this.
Eh yop - me duck!

Or perhaps, as we'll be hibernating this winter we may regress and devolve into two 13-year olds.

And so, salam and love to all in Singapore, Johor Bharu, Kuala Lumpur and AsH's readers in the ether.
However, I wish to record a special thank you and  xxx to our new-found and lovely friends (and neighbour) - Kakak Siti Zainon, Ken and Zarina, Daniel and Haiqal and  4-legs Spice, Betsy and Two-Socks.

"I'll have to say good-bye, until next time I fly."   Lely, this song is for you.

Friday 9 November 2012

Malaysia - 0. Brunei - 2.

The above marks the beginning of our  plight and long endurance at the Visa Section of  Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia.  Here are the gruesome details.

9.35  We left the house in a taxi to get to Jabatan Imigresen because I'm sick to the eyeballs of driving in Kuala Lumpur.
10.20 We arrived at Kompleks KDN Jalan Duta and joined the queue for the renewal-of-visa form.
10.51  We were given the form  and the allocated number.
11.30   The Computer Screen registered our number, and we submitted the application form, passport and relevant documents to Counter 12.  So far, so good - it looked very promising.
12.30   I saw our number again on the screen and proceeded to Counter 12 as noted.  I was wondering why 12 and not  Counter 9 which should have been the next stage.  At Counter 12 I was told off for being at the wrong place and told to go to Counter 9 for payment.  I showed my number slip, the cashier asked for $105 and gave me the receipt.  I was just about to go when another applicant asked to look at my receipt.  It was meant for him!   And the 'quick-thinking' cashier told him to refund me my $105. No apology, not even an indication of a shadow of shame and regret for such sloppy carelessness.

I was perplexed.  Was this some kind of manic musical chairs?  I asked very nicely, what happened to my application.  In a brusque manner she told me to sit down and wait.  I was not happy with being shoved from pillar to post.  I went back to Counter 12 and asked for some explanation.  He looked at me like I was an insect and said very rudely,  " I am dealing with Number 81xx and not yours."  He was effectively  telling me to go away.  I retorted,  "Then why was my number called?"

It took some doing for the spouse to get me to cool down.  We started waiting again  Then 2 hours later, at
2.30   we were directed to the venerable Counter 9 to make the payment.  We heaved a sigh of relief and knew that the Passport and Visa would be in our hands in an hour or so later.  Came 3 o'clock, then 4 o'clock - our eyes which were constantly looking at the Computer screen could not find our number.  Later numbers than ours were flashing by but not ours.

At 4.30, in his most diplomatic manner, the spouse spoke to an officer who was just passing and asked.  "Is there any problem with my application for my 3-days visa?  This is my number."  The officer started searching from one table to another and then to the office at the rear. Still nothing.  Then he saw a  basket in an alcove tucked away near Counter 7- the counter for Penyerahan.   In the basket there were about a dozen passports ready for distribution to their rightful owners and the spouse's was in that pile. Iain asked  "Mengapa passport saya di letak di situ?"   The officer said these were passports of those who did not come forward when their number was called.  I was seething by now  and under my breath I was uttering "Liar, liar liar".  Our two pairs of eyes had been glued to the Computer screen since half past two!!!   I was about to say just that to the officer but Iain pulled me away.  "Let's go home.  We've got the visa and passport."  The receipt in the spouse's passport registered  3.04 when the visa was given clearance!

By the time we left the building, the car park was almost empty.  Of course we could not flag a taxi because the place was shutting down.  In desperation we called for help from our lovely neighbour Zarinah.  She managed to get us a taxi and we, especially Iain, hobbled down the slope to get to the main road to wait for Pak Yusof's taxi.  We did not get home until nearly 6pm.

Hence this posting.  It was not too long ago when this Government Department committed the same kind of gross inefficiency and neglect.


I reckon the slogan of "Rakyat di Dahulukan" does not apply in this part of Jabatan Imigresen because the 'clients' are all foreigners.  They are looked down upon because they are here as  recipients of  the Immigration Officers' grace and favour.  Most or almost all of the time, these foreigners are treated like second class humans, and sometimes spoken to as if they are dogs.  And I am not exaggerating!  These Immigration Napoleons know they are the 'durians' and can behave as nastily as they like to these vulnerable and hapless 'mentimun'.

As a Malay and Muslim,  I cannot help but wonder how do these Government Officers sleep at night?  Muslims are very scrupulous about "halal' and 'haram' in their food and attire, about dosa and pahala in their behaviour. Do they apply such strictures to the way they work or do not work to deserve their  'rezeki' and the treatment of their fellow  human beings?  I have seen kaffir Immigration Officers in Singapore and Britain and New Zealand and India who in most cases harbour a similar  attitude towards foreigners, but they do not treat such people with such rudeness,  disdain and contempt.  Budi bahasa and sopan santun  are dished out only to foreigners in hotels and shopping centres, not to those applying and renewing their Visa in Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia.

For the first time since April this year, the spouse- for a span of 8 hours- was not able to rest horizontally.  All of yesterday he found himself sitting, walking and standing to maintain circulation and keep the pain of the three slipped discs at bay.

There was a young Malay couple sitting in the waiting room near us.  I noticed her husband had a walking stick with a white band at the top.  Twice she offered her seat to Iain but he gently refused because too much sitting on such a low seat was very uncomfortable.  When the time came and he felt like sitting, this kind lass moved closer to Monil, her husband so that all 4 of us could squeeze into three seats.  At that time, until about 4.30, that room was packed with people, like sardines in a Made-in-Malaysia can.

We got talking.   Lo and behold, they were from Brunei where I spent 7 working years.  This was the country that gave me a job when I could not bear working in Singapore anymore.  We talked about Gadong STPRI, SOAS College, the market in the centre of BSB that had now been moved to Gadong, of Sungai Kianggeh and Tutong and Berakas beach, of  Lamunin, Ang's Hotel.  The young man Monil was undergoing treatment at Prince Court and they had to do this visa renewal every month.  Although their number was much later than ours they got their passports before Iain got his.

When they were about to leave, the young lass salam and cium  my hand.  Before that Monil invited us to visit Brunei and to stay at their house.  As my mother would put it, "sejuk hati' to be able to meet this lovely couple.  They are both Malay-Muslims like the Immigration Officers but they are Melayu Brunei.

That explains the title of my posting.

My students at Maktab Perguruan Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Gadong would perform this song for Concerts at the College.  The most striking line in the  lyrics:  Jangan tak Sopan, Orang Ramai akan Melihat.